Okay, so the Memphis Grizzlies almost certainly won’t pick Arizona phenom DeAndre Ayton unless two other franchises go bonkers. Odds aren’t looking great for Slovenian star Luka Doncic or Duke’s Marvin Bagley, either.
But the No. 4 pick? We’ll take it.
No, despite having a 19.9 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick, the Grizzlies dropped out of the top three in last night’s NBA Draft. Picking ahead of them will be the Atlanta Hawks at No. 3 and Sacramento Kings at No. 2. Phoenix, who finished with the worst record in the NBA last season and had the best odds of landing the top pick, did just that Tuesday night.
I’ll break this down more in this week’s edition of The New Tri-State Defender, but I’ll touch on it here: It may be less of a sure thing for the Grizzlies to land a franchise-altering player in this year’s draft, but it is by no means impossible. After all, players like James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetekounmpo were all taken well after the fourth pick in past drafts. We’re about to find out how good Chris Wallace and the front office are at evaluating talent in the draft.
It’s still way too early to speculate what will happen; for instance, if Doncic somehow falls out of the top 3, you can bet that the Grizz will snap him up. Same with Bagley.
And there are other tantalizing names out there: Oklahoma sharpshooter Trae Young has drawn comparisons to Stephen Curry and Michigan State PF Jaren Jackson Jr. is considered the best player on the board after Ayton, Doncic and Bagley. But do the Grizz need another young big behind JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin and Deyonta Davis?
Or do the Grizzlies trade out of the No. 4 spot? Perhaps. There have been enough teams who have had a disappointing finish that other franchises may be willing to shake up their rosters — Portland, Oklahoma City, Toronto all imploded in the playoffs and may be looking to retool. Whether or not the Grizz have players and/or contracts that other teams want is another question altogether.
But in the end, I expect this pick to be more of a long-term play and not as impactful for the 2018-19 season. That’s not to say that a good (maybe great) player won’t make a difference; but if you’re looking for Memphis to find it’s way back into the playoffs next season, that will depend much more on overall health — specifically, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Chandler Parsons.
If the Grizzlies can add a future star (hopefully a superstar) to that mix, along with the developing young cast that showed signs under J.B. Bickerstaff, the next era of exciting Beale Street Basketball could be here sooner than expected.